The up-close footage from the ill fated launch attempt of the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket has just released, almost a month later. It's terrifying.
In normal cases photographers are allowed to collect the memory cards from their remotely controlled cameras within a few hours after lift off. But the October 28th launch was anything but normal.As America Space explains:
Immediately after the accident the launch complex was sealed off, which is a call made by Range Safety and Orbital Sciences' procedure, at which point an Incident Response Team (IRT) went out to secure all data — including impounding of any imagery that could be relevant in the accident investigation. This procedure is standard operation in the aftermath of an accident, and for that reason it was not until earlier this week that the press photography team covering the launch finally received some (but not all) of the launch pad footage that was impounded for the investigation.
To be honest, it's almost a miracle that cameras around the launch site survived the huge explosion. Elliot Severn, a launch photojournalist's first-hand account:
The vehicle seemed to hang in the air and started to burn, it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It fell in a pillar of fire and exploded on impact, and we could feel the heat on our face from 1.5 miles away. Seconds later the shockwave hit, and we all ran for the buses to evacuate. We had little hope of any cameras surviving.
But they did survive and here is a hellish video compilation of four cameras surrounding the launch pad. One of the cameras was right in the middle of the fireball, with chunks of rocket debris showering down around it.